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    Admired the world over for its impeccable taste and effortless style, France celebrates beauty, sophistication and style. From elegant chateaux and grand boulevards to immaculately manicured country roads and charming villages; fairytale castles, thousand-year-old cathedrals, and even older vineyards. This is the country that taught the world about joie de vivre and savoir-faire, about high culture and haute couture. France has everything a discerning traveler could wish for.

    The largest country in Europe and, culturally and historically, one of the most influential in the world, France has a reputation that precedes her. Before even visiting, you already know about the famous boulevards, the gourmet cuisine, the fabulous fashions and stylish cafes. You may have heard the stereotypes, about haughty French waiters, pervasive cigarette smoking and smelly cheese. To put the record straight: the waiters are formal rather than friendly, smoking is on the decline, and strong cheeses are decidedly optional. France is a country of complexities. To truly understand its allure, you have to visit.

    Centuries of history have shaped France’s rich heritage, and the buildings speak volumes: from the medieval city of Carcassonne to the Renaissance chateaux of the Loire Valley, and the magnificent 19th century Haussmann boulevards in Paris. You can imagine scenes of the Belle Epoque at the Moulin Rouge as vividly as World War II battles at Omaha Beach in Normandy. Despite its weighty past, France is a thoroughly modern nation. Alongside the ancient castles and cathedrals are emphatically 21st century innovations: from the 300 kilometers-per-hour TGV rail service, to the Pompidou Center of Modern Art in Paris and a stadium-sized underground cathedral in Lourdes.

    France is defined by its diverse topography. The spectacular landscape ranges from the poppy-strewn plains of Picardy to the rolling hills of Champagne, the snowy peaks of the Alps to the serene shores of the Mediterranean Sea. Each region has its own unique character. People have different accents all over the country, and the gastronomy varies as much as the scenery. President Charles de Gaulle once lamented about the difficulty of governing a nation with over 300 types of cheese – but for visitors, the variety of culture and cuisine is something to relish!